[Commissioned by SAW Video in Ottawa as part of their Public Domain project through the Canada Council's Media Arts Commissioning program in collaboration with the National Library and Archive of Canada.]



Not Torn (Asunder from the Very Start)


I kept waiting for the river to flood, but it never flooded. I knew it had flooded in the past; I'd dreamt about it, and seen it on film.

Floods look so peaceful in films. Especially in relation to fires and plagues. So peaceful and so right. It's always a shame when the waters recede.

Don't worry, it's only a day trip — and nothing to do with God, on balance. Not much happened. A knife momentarily unsheathed. They return at dusk, utterly changed and exactly the same.

If I say I dreamt these images and then found them in the archive, it is because I already had the images in my head, but not as memories. Memory and archive are fundamentally opposed, antagonistic. The affront of the archive is the assumption that it exists to redress memory's supposed flaws: its ephemeral nature, corporeal ties, fleeting subjectivities, gaps, mistakes, vested interests. The archive is not a repository of cultural memory but of dreams, a bank of dream material. The work of history is not memory work but dream work.

Both memory and archive embrace death, but from contrary positions.

The archive is a mausoleum that pretends to be a vast garden. Memory is an irradiated zoo in which the various animals are mutating extravagantly and dying slowly.